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People Transfer: Apr 15, 2009


Burrill and Company, a San Francisco-based venture capital and merchant banking firm focusing on the life sciences, last week announced the promotions of Tiba Aynechi, Garrett Vygantas, and Neel Patel.

Aynechi, who has been promoted to director of merchant banking, joined Burrill in 2006 following an internship in the venture group. Previously, she was a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco. She received her PhD in biophysics from UCSF.

Vygantas has been named director of venture capital. Before joining Burrill in 2006, he was with Genentech's market planning group, where he helped commercialize and launch Lucentis for treating wet age-related macular degeneration. He co-founded and served as interim CEO of New Bridge Pharmaceuticals, and serves on its board of directors. Vygantas completed his medical residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds MD and MBA degrees from Georgetown University.

Patel has been promoted to the position of senior associate of merchant banking. Prior to Burrill, Patel was a management consultant with AT Kearney. He has also worked in business development at Roche Diagnostics. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

The University of Virginia Patent Foundation has named John Mugler and James Brookeman the 2009 Edlich-Henderson Inventors of the Year.

The award recognizes an inventor or team of inventors at the school "whose research discoveries have proven to be of notable value to society," UVA said.

Mugler and Brookeman, professors of radiology and biomedical engineering at UVA, were honored for their work in the area of MRI techniques. The researchers' innovative pulse sequences, which essentially serve as instructions telling MRI machines how to operate and collect data, are used in machines of major MRI equipment manufacturers, UVA said.

The researchers' more recent work with hyperpolarized noble gases as MRI contrast agents for the lungs is currently being explored with other colleagues at the university and in clinical trials by a major unnamed manufacturer, the university said.

Harry Jacobson will retire as vice chancellor for health affairs at Vanderbilt University effective June 1, and Jeffrey Balser, dean of the School of Medicine, will succeed him, Vanderbilt said this month.

Jacobson assumed leadership of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1997. As vice chancellor for health affairs, Jacobson serves as CEO and academic head of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which has annual net revenues of $2.3 billion, more than 16,000 employees, and 2,100 full-time faculty members.

Jacobson also previously chaired the board of the Vanderbilt University Technology Corporation, a once separate business entity that handled new venture creation and technology transfer at the school, but is now part of the university's tech-transfer office.

A nephrologist with clinical practice and laboratory research experience, Jacobson came to Vanderbilt in 1985 as professor of medicine and director of the nephrology division. Previously, he was associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, and served as chief of the US Army Surgical Research Center at Brooke Army Surgical Center in San Antonio, Texas, from 1976 to 1978.

Balser, who has held several clinical and research leadership roles at Vanderbilt, was named dean of the School of Medicine last October and will continue to serve in that role for now. He served as associate vice chancellor for research at the School of Medicine from 2004 to 2008, and was the first associate dean for physician scientist career development in the School of Medicine.

Balser’s appointment as vice chancellor is subject to approval by the university’s Board of Trust, which meets later this month.

The Scan

Call for a Different Tack

Experts weigh the value of recent experiments testing genetically modified pig kidneys using brain-dead individuals, according to Nature News.

Wastewater Warning

The New York Times reports that wastewater surveillance in some parts of the US point to a possible surge.

Can't Get in the Program

Due to the Northern Ireland protocol dispute, the European Union is preventing UK researchers from joining the Horizon Europe research program, the Times of London reports.

Science Paper on Spatial-Controlled Genome Editing

In Science this week: approach to enable a CRISPR-Cas13a-based system to be used as a cancer therapy.